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Europe’s VR sector grows to 300 companies

Europe’s booming virtual reality (VR) ecosystem now consists of nearly 300 companies, according to the first European Virtual Reality landscape released by The Venture Reality Fund and France’s LucidWeb.

Silicon Valley-based venture firm The Venture Reality Fund tracks investments in the augmented reality and VR markets, but most of the action in the past has focused on US companies. But for the first time the VR Fund has conducted European research showing the region’s growth in the VR ecosystem, its increased investment, and its growing international impact.

The research shows that games are the most competitive space, with well-funded companies including CCP Games (Iceland), nDreams (United Kingdom), Resolution Games (Sweden), and Solfar Studios (Iceland).And user input technology — focused on interactions in VR by brain (BCI), body, eye, feet, and hand — has many premium players, such as the Swiss-based company MindMaze that raised $100 million, the largest amount raised in one round by any European VR company.

Companies are also creating 360-degree VR capture hardware and software, with two French companies, VideoStitch and Giroptic, at the forefront.

Beyond games, the enterprise is gaining traction, with real estate VR generating significant additional revenue for online agencies across Europe. Sweden’s Diakrit and Netherlands-based TheConstruct are two companies leading the charge.

French companies Homido and MindMaze and Swedish-based Starbreeze are the most advanced hardware companies developing a mobile Head Mounted Display (HMD) or tethered HMD.

Companies in VR post-production are developing 3D tools, and leading American software companies have acquired several of these startups over the past two years: Google acquired Irish Thrive Audio, Facebook acquired Scotland-based Two Big Ears, and Snapchat acquired London-based Seen/Obvious Engineering.

Health care and fitness companies are utilising VR for medical training, mental treatments (anxiety, Asperger’s syndrome), and physical rehabilitation. Spain-based Psious and Amsterdam-based MDlinking are two companies to watch in this category.

More than half of the companies included in the landscape are based in the UK, France, Germany, and Sweden. Overall, France is taking the lead in VR in continental Europe.

“The VR industry is booming and not just in the US or Asia. The old continent has known a slower start, but definitely got up to speed during the past two years,” says Leen Segers, cofounder and CEO at LucidWeb, in a statement. “The VR gaming segment remains the most competitive space but is surely challenged by a large number of companies focusing on user input or 3D tools. We feel very excited for the future as we see local and international investors are clearly investing in these segments, too.”

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